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Social deprivation in childhood can lead to cognitive problems

Social deprivation in childhood can lead to cognitive problems
14th September 2012

Those who experience social deprivation during their childhood could experience problems with cognitive function as adults.

This is according to a recent study at Boston Children's Hospital, which claims that isolation in early life prevents the cells that make up the brain's white matter from maturing and producing myelin.

A fatty insulation on nerve fibres, myelin helps the transmission of long-distance messages in the brain.

What's more, researchers identified a molecular pathway that is involved in the creation of abnormalities, which could be a possible target for drug therapies.

It is also believed that the timing of social deprivation is important to the development of cognitive impairment.

The discovery was made when researchers modelled social deprivation in mice and observed cells called oligodendrocytes failed to mature in the prefrontal cortex - which controls short term memory, attention span and the ability to focus.

Understanding how isolation affects the brain may also have implications for understanding mental health problems.

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